Ask somebody to associate Barbados with world quality golf venues and most people will link the layouts at Sandy Lane and Royal Westmoreland to the Royal and Ancient game – well, think again because the new course at the Apes Hill Club signifies the arrival of another top end golfing destinations on the island.
Local businessman Sir Charles Williams provided the finance for the residential development at Apes Hill and money was certainly no object when it came to building an 18-hole centerpiece golf course, evidenced by the trucking in of 6,000 loads of sand to cap the fairways.
Sir Charles enlisted American developer Jerry Barton of the Landmark Land Company to construct his housing and golf complex and he in turn looked to in-house architects Jeff Potts (an old Pete Dye associate) and Chris Cole to design the golfing element of the project.
Much of the property sits on an old sugar plantation at an elevation of 1,000 feet, offering golfers fantastic long views of the Caribbean Sea to the west and the Atlantic Ocean to the east when they climb to the elevated tee of the 12th hole. This begins the three-hole Amen Corner portion of the Apes Hill course where fairways have been carved through what has been described as “upcountry jungle”.
Each of the nines open with uphill par fives that play into the prevailing wind and both the nines close with downhill, downwind holes – the 9th is a 595-yard par five and the 18th a 500-yard par four.
The handful of par threes on the card are collectively as good a set of short holes as you’ll find anywhere in the Caribbean. The most photogenic of these holes on the front nine is the 185-yard 5th where the green is cut into the side of a coral stone cliff and the same rock formation also forms an eye catching backdrop to the 200-yard 16th.
In November 2019 we learnt that the course at the Apes Hill Club closed. We understand the layout is being renovated but we do not know when it will reopen.
I played Apes Hill on 05/11/18 for the first time - the course layout is outstanding, but the greens are absolutely appalling. We spoke with the head green keeper and he confirmed that the club is in financial difficulty and are struggling to maintain the course to a sufficient standard. Some of the fairways were also very patchy. It is a real shame as the course set up, the location and the views are stunning.
I played Apes Hill Club on 4th March 2019, the greens were okay, the fairways were okay for the most part but the rough is penal and there is plenty of it due still to financial constraints. It was set up to compete with Royal Westmoreland but the property purchases have not come through and the developer has left, just after a $20m club house was built using Government money. I was told there are 5 parties interested in buying the site and one can only hope the right people get involved. As previous commentators have stated, the golf holes, especially on the back nine are stunning and it needs to be saved and restored to it's no doubt, glory!
This course is certainty one of the best in the Caribbean built around the top of a hill and carved out of jungle like vegetation it has undulating terrain and elevation changes that produce many interesting holes. The front nine takes you up the hill before playing several holes around an old mine site before returning back down the hill toward the clubhouse holes 6 through 9 provide expansive views of the sea below.
While the front 9 is outstanding the back nine kicks it up a gear again it too starts off up the hill in a different direction before working its way across and then down the mountain with a fun downhill downwind par 4 to finish.
The par 3’s on this course get most of the acclaim and they are outstanding particularly the 16th which is played over a lake with a cave behind the green it also has great views of the sea in the distance. There is great variety in the par 4’s at Apes Hill with no two alike they differ greatly in distance and direction the 13th and 14th are my personal favorites the 13th being a long hole with a challenging second shot over a ravine to a receptive green while the 14th is short uphill dogleg which has an elevated green that is significantly more difficult to hit and hold. The par 5’s are a mixture with the spectacular sweeping 6th hole off set by the 15th which is the only ordinary hole on the course in my opinion although it is reachable for a lot of players, the other two par 5’s provide the start to each 9 and while being interesting they are both uphill and into the prevailing wind which can be a brutal start.
Apes Hill Club is very affluent place you drive past polo fields to get to the course and the clubhouse has an infinity pool at the front, the course was in exceptional condition both times I played. This course is difficult aside from the start to both nines the greens can be hard to read and the bunkers are large providing a true penalty if you find yourself in one.
Having played many of the top courses in the Caribbean I believe Apes Hill is right near the top and would highly recommend a round there.
Apes Hill is running into some degree of financial challenge according to more local (mostly expat) golfers. The course is not in the best of shape at the moment (we went around yesterday — 7 November), with maintenance being conducted on the fairways and greens. The grass cuttings left on the fairways were not conducive to a good game of golf so we passed and played Westmoreland a second time.
I played Apes Hill on 05/11/18 for the first time - the course layout is outstanding, but the green are absolutely appalling. We spoke with the head green keeper and he confirmed that the club is in financial difficulty and are struggling to maintain the course to a sufficient standard. Some of the fairways were also very patchy. It is a real shame as the course set up, the location and the views are stunning.
I Plyes Apes Hill with my family whilst on holiday. The course is undulating and very interesting. Beautifully laid out with some incredibly eye catching holes. Beware, you will never have a flat lie or a straight putt! It wasn't challenging in terms of length, but certainly tested course management. It was a stiff test for our low and medium handicaps, but perhaps a bridge too far for the novices in our group. The staff were very friendly and we enjoyed a lovely, relaxing and yet stimulating golf experience.